Olympus Cash Scandal: UK Launches Prosecution
The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is to prosecute Olympus and its UK subsidiary in connection with an accounting scandal at the Japanese camera and medical equipment maker.
The news was confirmed two months after a Japanese court handed suspended jail sentences to three former Olympus executives for engineering a scheme to hide about $1.7bn (£1.1bn) in losses.
The actions - dating back to the 1990s - were uncovered in 2011 by the company's-then new chief executive Michael Woodford who blew the whistle and was subsequently sacked in an affair that was to shake Japan's corporate governance infrastructure.
An Olympus statement said: "Having completed its investigation, the SFO has decided to bring a prosecution against the company and Gyrus Group Limited, a UK subsidiary.
"We will decide our response after carefully reviewing the content of the charges."
The SFO said: "Gyrus Group Ltd and Olympus have been charged with offences of making a statement to an auditor which was misleading, false or deceptive, contrary to section 501 Companies Act 2006.
"Gyrus Group faces four charges and Olympus faces one charge."
Olympus was fined £4.4m by the district court in Tokyo over its actions while Japanese regulatory penalties and other charges, including back tax demands, reportedly top £32m.
Olympus said the allegations against it in Britain related to the fiscal years 2009 and 2010.
Its statement added: "After a hearing date before the Magistrates' Court, it is expected that the matter will be transferred to the Crown Court for the future steps of the proceedings."
The company added that it was difficult to estimate the level of fines in Britain, should the prosecution result in a guilty verdict.